Flying Solo

How to build a profitable enterprise

takes?’ Everyone is not cut out to be self-employed.”

Indeed, going out on your own is a big step. And you must decide for yourself when the time is right to make the leap from employee to entrepreneur (see “Straddling Both Worlds,” November 1999). Even with today’s business-friendly environment, you’ll have a greater chance of success if you select the right business. In this article, we’ll identify four fast-growing businesses for the self-employed, according to Paul and Sarah Edwards, authors of The Best Home Businesses for the 21st Century (Tarcher/Putnam, $17.95), and provide strategies for making a profitable transition to going it alone.

ASSESS YOUR ENTREPRENEURIAL SKILLS
Do you have the skills, abilities and knowledge required for the business you’d like to start? Do you have the ability to nurture and grow a business? Are you prepared to make sacrifices? Are you self-motivated? Do you like being in charge? Do you have the financial means to start a business? These questions must be answered truthfully before you move into self-employment, suggests Lillie Taylor, director of the Bank of America’s Small Business Resource Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

A.J. Archibald III, CEO of Hitlist.com in Washington, D.C., applied his technology skills and tapped into one of the fastest growing industries: Internet technology. Archibald’s $300,000 online business provides entertainment news and music and videos for consumers. He launched the firm while a student at Howard University, and initial work on the business was done part-time while Archibald worked full-time. His mother invested $10,000, which he used for marketing, promotion and computers.

“I then left my regular job and began to devote full attention (60 hours per week) to the growth of Hitlist,” says Archibald, 28. “In the beginning, I experienced the uncertainty of self-employment. I was waiting for that first check. After it came, I felt assured that other companies would use my services to promote their material.”

4 HOT BUSINESS SECTORS
Personal/Business Services
Number of U.S. black-owned firms: 333,000
Total revenues: $11 billion
Growth industry: Business consulting
Growth factors: The ever-changing economy and increasing global competition, which require problems be solved in an efficient, cost-effective manner.
Start-up costs: $6,075 to $12,900: computer hardware and software, dues for professional and trade associations, professional liability insurance, professional development seminars, reference books, continuing education, marketing.

Qualifications: A track record of using expertise to solve problems in organizations; extensive knowledge in a particular area of expertise; strong communication skills.Advantages: Receipt of maximum pay for your expertise in a profession that offers variety and challenge.

Challenges: To market your services successfully, you must demonstrate to clients that they’re going to see tangible results because of your work. You may be held accountable for the success or failure of a company, even if the stock market or a bad product limit your effectiveness. Frequent travel for long periods of time is part of the job, and it can be exhausting and expensive. Cash flow may be a problem since it can take a long time to close a deal. There’s a high failure rate because many people are looking for that

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